We’re In This Together, Except That We’re Not


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So, I’m pregnant. Again. And my husband is ecstatic. Of course. But the worst thing about it is that he keeps using that word “we” about the whole process. “We” are pregnant. “We” are having a baby. “We” are in this together. But, all I keep thinking is – no, “we” are NOT! This party is mine and mine alone! 

Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband. And our marriage is a rock. Rather like one of those briny ones at the bottom of the sea, it’s not shiny or spectacular. It’s just sort of there. And, thankfully, it’s been there so long that there aren’t many natural disasters that could disturb it or divers interested in plucking us from our spot. We are here to stay. For better or worse. BUT, as much as this is all true – the fact that I love him and we are for keeps – he needs to know that there’s no “we” in pregnancy. 

Yes, it took two of us for this blessed event to occur. As his two seconds of work began and ended his part of the equation, my body was left holding the bag to do the rest by itself. There was no “we” after the egg and sperm met. Once his little buddy got sucked in there, my body took over the rest of the show. And since that time, all of the organ-making and body-forming has been on my end. Me! Not “we!” 

It’s not just about the work and the creation part, either. It’s also about the pain. Who am I kidding – it’s mostly about the pain. And, believe me, there is no “we” in any of that. He doesn’t share my momentary dry heaves or the sort of fatigue that leaves me feeling like a zombie after doing almost nothing. He is just fine! Ready to conquer the world!! He’s still planning get-togethers with friends and family outings like nothing has changed. Meanwhile, I just get tired from picking grapes off of their stems. It’s hard work creating a new life. And I am the one working. Me! Not “we!” 

Sometimes, when I’m feeling bad, he holds me and lovingly looks into my eyes. In those moments, I almost forget how much I hate the words that will follow. The whole ‘“we” can get through anything together’ and ‘“we” can make this all work’ speech. “We.” Not me. Even though, really, who are we kidding? I’m the one who will have to get through the torn vagina and cracked nipples. I am the one who will have to figure out the sleepless nights and the feeding schedules. I am the one who will learn the habits, allergies, and temperament of my new baby – and then, after all of that, I will find the way in which to make this whole thing work. Me. Not “we!” 

The problem is he doesn’t get it. The male gene doesn’t allow for this sort of reasoning. They are so used to team sports and shared victories, they have mistakenly evolved their brains to believe that something done by one is done by all. But it’s not. And they are lucky for that level of ignorance. Really lucky, in fact.  

If there were a way that I could give birth to a baby without having little trickles of urine dribble out after every sneeze, or without huge clumps of hair falling out of my scalp post-partum, it would seem all the more magical. But, I can’t. Because I am the mother. Me. Not “we!” And until “we” realizes the fact that I am suffering more than he, I just can’t stomach that darn word. 

I love him. I’m happy to have another kid with him. But to hell with that word – “we!” Pregnancy is all me. And it sucks! Proverbially speaking, it’s the hardest work that I, or any mother, will ever do. And, in retrospect, after I have years of healing behind me, I’m sure I will believe that it was the best thing I’ve ever accomplished, too. But, as I’m living it right now, with discomfort and queasiness and heartburn being my daily routine, I’m taking full credit for this event. Me! Not “we!” Because, even though we are in this, I’m doing the heavy lifting. 

After the baby arrives, I will test out his theory of “we” status! Any chance I get – smelly diapers, crying jags, grocery jaunts – I will be on top of capitalizing on this “we” ideal. However, for the moment, as there can be only one of us in my body, this pregnancy thing is all about me. Me! Not “we!” Not yet. One day, we will see. But for now we’re just in this – me more than he.

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How to Throw an Awesome Pity Party


I’ve been feeling down lately. I mean, really down. Like so far down into the turnpike of the blues that all I want to do is cry, sleep and zone out with mindless TV. I know I’m not alone. I mean, I feel alone. I feel like no one cares and that my purpose in life is questionable. But, I know that I’m not special in this feeling. Others have felt this way a billion times over. It’s not a condition unique to me.

But it’s dumb. It’s not like I have a real reason. No one in our family is dying. We aren’t refugees forced to flee our home. No one has been indicted for a crime they didn’t commit. Heck, at the moment, I don’t even have a hang-nail, a paper cut or a neck spasm (which is rare for me, truly). But even though times seem fortuitous and everyone in my house is clothed, sheltered, fed and in good health, I just can’t get out of this funk.

So, despite all of this, in the thick of such deep emotions, I have felt it necessary to have a party. A pity party, no less. And, since I’m throwing one on a semi-daily basis, I thought it would be helpful to put together a “how-to” guide for all of those awesome people who have never indulged.

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Step One: Make a mountain out of a molehill 

Now, for those who don’t already know, molehills are small and mountains are big. So, your goal is to take something really tiny and make it the size of the sun. But, make sure there aren’t any cracks in it or the mountain won’t maintain its height. And, you’re going to need that height in order to scale the madness like a martyr and make a non-issue into an issue.

Step Two: Read between the lines

So, there are things that people say. And then there are the words, hidden between parsed lips, that hold the real meanings to what they have said. Learn to differentiate between the two. For example, when one of the insanely involved PTA moms says, “What have you been up to lately?” she is really asking, “Why haven’t you volunteered more, you lazy cow!?” Understanding the subtleties of hidden language and learning how to decode it is key to the pity party process.

Step Three: Make connections where none exist

Remember last Tuesday? Some of your friends were talking about a yoga class they all attended en masse. And they didn’t even think to invite you! Clearly, it can only mean one thing – they hate you. But that’s just the beginning.

The book you’ve been trying to get published has been rejected, again – so, you are a talentless twit. A thoughtful meme you posted on Facebook didn’t get a single “like” – you have no friends. Your house has been on the market for five months and hasn’t sold – the universe must hate you, too. Your kid didn’t get a part in that school play – you failed them on every level. Be sure to notice how one thing has a cross-connection with something else. Always. And, even though, in a court of law, your opinion could not be backed with any traceable form of proof, you feel like it’s right. So, golly, it must be!

Step Four: Hold unreal expectations

This is a great step because it is really the key to having an epic pity party. Maybe you always dreamed of being a CEO by the time you were 40, but instead you’re 38, pregnant and folding your family’s towels for the 9,077th time. Maybe you feel like there is some unspoken rule about iPhone etiquette in the presence of company that your friend just doesn’t follow to your liking. Or perhaps you think your husband should finally, after 20 years of marriage, know where the Lysol resides in the cabinet. But he doesn’t. And he never will. Holding on to unreal expectations, in any setting, can bring about the biggest disappointments in life (read: the best fodder for the blues).

Step Five: Dwell on the negative

This is the final step, and without it the party would not be complete. Hold on, with vigor, to all things morose and grim. When something good happens, wait for something bad to take its place. When something bad happens, wait for things to get worse. And if they don’t get worse, keep waiting. But, while you’re waiting, reflect on all of the other bad things that have happened to you. Ever. And try to go back to step three, just to see if there are any new, negative connections you can make that haven’t already been visited before.

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After having done all of these things, let me assure you, a pity party will be epic and unavoidable. Probably the best one of your life. And, by best, I mean ABSO-effing-LUTELY worst. Party. EVER! So, go solo. Bring a box of tissues. Hang out in your comfiest pajamas. And cry until you’ve gotten it all out of your system. And then, when you snap out of it, maybe you can throw a party. For real.

The Truth About Santa (and other people)


There comes a time in every child’s life when the leaps of faith in fantastical beings (like the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Santa Claus) get trampled and overtaken by more mature thoughts of probability, pragmatism and logic. My friend’s daughter reached that stage this past weekend. There were some tears (from both sides). They had a talk. And, then that evening she left her daughter a note that she would find when she awoke. Here is what that note said:

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To back up a little, this girl has been a “believer” in all things big and small since she was a mere tot. And, her mom had a huge part in shaping those beliefs. They basked in every holiday, adding magical lore and fanciful figures to each and every celebration.

At Christmas, the traditional tales of Santa were told, as well as many untraditional stories her mom made up. These stories explained everything from why there were different Santa’s at every mall, how he made it to all of the world’s houses in one night, and of course the amazing “Santa election process!”

At Easter there was an Easter Bunny. But, unlike most that just leave Peeps and cheap trinkets, he would instead leave plastic eggs with scavenger hunt clues that lead to a bigger prize in the end. And then the Tooth Fairy – she left glittered notes and a magical two dollar bill in exchange for each tooth lost. A pretty sweet deal, if you ask me! Of course, the story behind why she needed children’s teeth became very intricate and had something to do with powering an entire city. Ever heard of “tooth juice?” Yea, me neither, but her mom did and that was a whole other topic of its own!

Yes, my friend had created a very elaborate world of lovely folklore that her daughter ate up with delight. The very best of them all, however, was the Elf. You know, those elves that everyone displays during the holidays. That brilliant Elf on the Shelf from which some ladies amassed and empire?! Yes, those! My friend had gone above and beyond each Christmas season, preparing intricate and exciting Elf displays. Each year had a theme. The first year started off small, with little inspirational quotes.

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The following year got more educational, with the elf embodying notable figures throughout history. (If you want to see all of them, go here. They are pretty darn cool! http://www.boredpanda.com/inspirational-elf-on-the-shelf/)

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And last year, the Elf went all out reenacting scenes from movies. (More here: http://www.boredpanda.com/the-quotable-elf/)

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It was pretty great!

But now it can be no more. Her daughter no longer believes! I know I was sad to learn of this new reality. And I wondered, in my time of pondering, was there anything wrong with instilling such a detailed belief system only to have it shatter and fall to the ground one day?!

The answer is simply: of course not! By telling these stories and keeping this mythology alive, she did a wonderful thing for her daughter. Though it’s not quite how we do things in our house, I understand the logic (or madness!) behind it. She gave her child something we are quite lacking today – the gift of imagination, belief in something grand as well as pure and simple joy. Even though none of it was real, even though some could contend it was nothing more than a web of lies, it was done with love and the good intentions of a parent who wanted nothing more than to give her daughter some special childhood memories. And, that’s pretty great, if you ask me – a cynical girl who always knew such things didn’t exist.

Maybe those tears they shed together were necessary. Maybe this conversation about the “truth” was hard. But, from what I hear, it also ended in hugs and a new sense of wonder. This time, though, the elation existed over what *other* things they could create, together, that could be just as fun as an Elf, a city run on tooth juice and a fat guy who delivers good memories for all! And, boy, I can’t wait to see what they come up with together!

Nothing Means Anything: Anarchy for the New Year


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The new year begins with resolutions, self-reflection and an endless cesspool of thoughts relating to the umpteen ways I did not measure up to last year’s goals. And with so many metaphorical bruises I have given to myself, it almost seems unfair to hope for change. After all, how can I even muster the strength to transform myself when I am obviously at an emotional disadvantage?! That’s why this year, a year like every other, when I have already started to nit-pick over a new set of failures, I decided to try this one anti-resolution instead: live life unchecked.

That’s right! Live life. Unchecked! In other words, fuck that little voice in my head that says “Don’t eat that piece of chocolate, you fat cow!” Fuck that shiny quarter who believes itself to be intended for the “swear jar” just because of a momentary fit of road rage. Fuck the PTA and HOA who constantly make me feel like I’m not being a good (enough) citizen. Fuck Dr. Oz, Deepak Chopra, “Hands Free Mama” and any other person who claims to have all of the answers (for a mere $24.99). Fuck pretentious friends and presumptuous people. Fuck the Joneses – fuck their manicured lawns, their shiny new cars, and their vacation pictures. Fuck Facebook and those who feel a constant need to post on it. Fuck Pinterest and all those crafty bitches who can’t stop making shit. Fuck scales and numbers, fads and fashion, comparison shopping and coupon clipping. Fuck everything. Why? Because I have come to realize that none of it means anything. That’s right. Nothing! As the Buddhists would concur, it’s all just an illusion.

Case in point, I have one friend who is Vegan. She chooses not to eat any animal products because of the ethical issues surrounding their treatment. And while that is all fine and good, she does love to peruse the world on her iPad – which, ironically, is one of the most cruel devices known to man. On the surface it wouldn’t seem so; but, taking a closer look, the poor laborers who assemble them make roughly 10 cents a week, live in a studio-apartment-sized dormitory with seven other people and have “suicide” nets surrounding their prison/office. Cruelty-free life?! Not quite. Oh, and another interesting note about this person: she likes to shoplift. A lot.

And then there is another person I know, one who presents her surface life as fictionally grand though in truth it is earnestly vacant. She is always busy doing endless crafts to adorn her home, making all of the other moms stand in shame because they didn’t think to make more of a celebration of Arbor Day or Independence Day, just like she did, by making children’s handprints into trees or cakes look like flags. Picture perfect to a tee. We all know this type. And yet her kids are total and complete assholes. Period. And while we shouldn’t judge a child any more than we should judge an unfinished painting….let’s just say, it’s clear that some forms of coddling and catering can’t be cured by time. They will be, without a doubt, people who have greatly inflated ideas of their own worth to the detriment of all others. CEO’s in the making!

Even further on the rungs of examples are the myriad of people I know in therapy. Paying people to “fix” their flaws, work through their “issues” and being charged hefty sums…for years…with no end in sight. And how much more sane or content are these folks? Probably less than the homeless guy on the corner! And he ate a day-old moldy burger out of the trash. Yeah.

So, then what are the answers?? Heck if I know. That’s not what this is about. But if I were to guess, I would say that no one knows. Not your sister, your pastor, your lawyer or your lover. We are all just groping in the dark. Without any answers. Without any guidance. People walk around in a state of belief that they are somehow different; but, no one is. We are all, unquestionably, failing in some way or another. And none of it means anything. It doesn’t make us any less important. Or special. It doesn’t mean we don’t deserve happiness or respect. It’s just the truth that we all try to ignore. Especially during the beginning of a new year.

With that in mind, one may wonder what it would mean to live a life unchecked. Does it mean there’s no conscience? No responsibilities? A free-for-all? Anarchy?! Ha! I wish. Simply, it means this year, for once, I will no longer compare myself to others. I will end the need to aim for other people’s unattainable goals. I will stop focusing on illusions and cease using the phrase “If they could do it, so can I.” I will close my Facebook account. And my Pinterest account. And will never, ever go to an Old Navy changing room again.

I will eat when I’m hungry, rest when I’m tired, work out when I’m motivated and do all of the things I need to do to sustain life, forsaking the rest unless desiring them in truth. In other words, I will do what makes me and my family happy. I will put my heart and soul into the things I care about. And I will be okay with the fact that I will sometimes fail. And the fact that sometimes those failures will make me sad or mad. But I will not let lofty dreams of unattainable quests (for self, for family, for creative or personal goals) set me up for upset. I will not buy into fantasies. I will live, not for tomorrow, but for right now. Today. The only thing I truly have of value. And I will not center my life around those holograms (of perfect weight, of perfect families, of perfect lives) that are meant to only torture souls.

This year my resolution is simple: I will live. And, I don’t know for sure, but I think that’s the whole point.

The Myth Of The Easy Baby


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First of all, let’s clear up a few things. There’s no such thing as Santa Claus of the Easter Bunny. Unicorns are myths. Dragons are legends. God, well, he’s debatable. But, without a doubt, of all man-made creatures, the one that is the most far-fetched is the beast they call the “easy baby.”

You know you’ve heard tales of him. He smiles before the six week mark. He coos with little provocation. He occupies himself without toys or props. He cries only for necessity. And (this is the part evil moms like to flaunt in the faces of their sleep-deprived colleagues), his nightly slumber extends to a placid ten hour stretch after only a few weeks of age. A few weeks! Meanwhile, your goblin spits up on every shirt, cries if you set him down for one second, grimaces if you look at him sideways…and, sleep, ha! Sleep. Well, let’s just say it’s become a foreign word in your house. So, does he really exist? Or is he just the cruel mirage our society embeds in our minds to make us feel inferior for having an all-too-common baby?

Uncertain about answering either of those questions, one thing can be said for sure – mothers from every walk of life, steeped in their various social and ethnic backgrounds, have all discussed him with the same, steady vigor. They proclaim his existence as though it were fact, moving quickly to convey his practices as though they were reciting Shakespearean love sonnets.

Typically, their stories always start out the same way – they once had a cousin who had a friend who got their hair cut by someone who had an “easy baby.” Rattling on, after an appalling amount of gratuitous details, they finally conclude these sagas with a sigh and desire that their own babies could be so grand. They are believers. And, even worse than cult members, they are hell bent on making you a believer, too!

Occasionally, though rarely, you may even encounter some moms who claim to have an “easy baby” of their own. When these fortuitous mothers speak of their infants, they typically use words like “he’s a dream” or “she’s such an angel.” They talk about how their lives are so flexible and enriched with the new baby around. How easy breastfeeding has been. How their little one is already doing baby push-ups and learning to pee in the toilet. And, can you believe it, he sleeps all night long without making a peep. He just loves his crib and doesn’t mind being in it. Indefinitely. And he’s only a month old.

Mouth agape, it’s at that point in the conversation when you almost cave in and start to feel bad about yourself and your spawn. After all, you’ve practically been house-bound since the baby came along. You are no longer able to use the phone because either when he sleeps you fear waking him or when he’s awake you can’t hear over the screaming. Yes, your family is enriched by your little one’s presence, but only on the most crude, Christmas-card-picture sort of level. And, let’s face facts about everything else – breastfeeding has been a bitch, baby’s motor skills are little more advanced than a grub-worm, and sleep…well, we can’t say emphatically enough how rare that action is.

Despite all of this, you try to remain civil while this mom discusses her amazing baby. In your mind, you picture punching her in the face, the only action that will efficiently put an end to her talking. But on the outside, you submit to her storytelling by giving her the “oohs” and “aahs” she craves. You tell her how wonderful her baby sounds, offering an almost robotic response: “What a great baby. I’m so happy for you.” But you’re not. You’re really crying on the inside because, like those other moms who have told the tales of “easy baby” with muffled sighs, you are also sighing, wishing you could trade your bundle of hell for that splash of joy.

However, suddenly, in the midst of this cruel verbal dungeon, something remarkable happens. You notice something. Nothing grand. Probably not even noticeable to most. Just the hint of a leaky breast hidden behind a cardigan. (Meaning: Her feeding cycle is not so established OR breastfeeding has been more of a drama than she admits.) A clump of dried spit-up wrestling with strands of thinning hair. (Meaning: Prince perfect can’t hold down his grub AND she has been stressing over it!) A harried and blotchy application of cover-up under which dark under-eye circles are emerging. (Meaning: The tales of extended sleep have been a flat-out lie.)

And then it hits you – even this seemingly perfect, put-together mommy with her noble and pristine infant is living under the disguise of a false veneer. Her baby, though sweet, is still just a baby. Not infallible. Not really even “easy.” Just simply a baby. And, as with all other babies, it is still a pooping, crying, slobbering, uncontrollable, sometimes sleepless, always helpless, endlessly loved though extremely tiring little person. So, the myth is over. The jig is up.

Gertrude Stein once said “a baby is a baby is a baby”…or something to that effect. And she was right. Babies are all just really difficult little people. Hell, even big people are difficult, but imagine how much more tricky your Starbucks order or phone call to a friend would be if you could only use shrill screams instead of words. It would suck. And, imagine how it would feel to have useless limbs flailing at your sides with an ambition to use them only to repeatedly and constantly fail at the task. It would suck even more. So, cutting them all a break, it would only make sense that they be cranky and fussy from time to time. On top of that, adding more pressure for their own perfection despite these challenges is just plain cruel. Cruel to baby. And cruel to mama!

Those who perpetrate the myth of the “easy baby” are perpetrating one of the worst crimes against humanity. Lying about reality doesn’t make you a good friend or a happy person. It makes you an asshole. And it makes everyone else miserable. So, to them I say: cut the crap! Mothers of real babies, stand united against these people and do what Nancy Reagan asked us all to do – just say NO! This may not always work. There will always be people who delight in prevarication. But, even when all else fails, just remember one thing: NO BABY IS AN EASY BABY.